We’re not sure how it happens every single year — but April often arrives as a surprise for busy professionals. The chill of the winter (and the recovery from the holidays) has many hibernating during the start of the year, so when the temperatures rise, so do the stakes to deliver.
With the start of the second quarter, the end of the year somehow feels instantly eminent, challenging hard workers to refocus, reset and strategize for them months ahead. Since spring is notorious as the season of “cleaning” — why not apply the same mentality to your habits?
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Branding expert Wendi Weiner says now is a solid opportunity to take an introspective look into how you can firm up your own personal skill set closet to power your way through the remaining nine months of the year.
Here, ways to double-down and shape-up ASAP:
Get real about your schedule and goals
No matter if you’re an entrepreneur, a senior vice president, a director or a one-person show, an effective schedule that helps you meet your goals is essential to success. No matter how motivated someone might be (or how much they adore their gig), it’s easy to be tempted by late nights or cutting corners here and there. You know yourself best, so get real with how you’re approaching your day-to-day.
“Are you sticking to a routine or falling short of it? Is your current way of doing things creating roadblocks and challenges for you?” Weiner asks. “Consider the ways in which you can create a schedule that ensures alignment with your goals and creates stronger patterns of success. Focus on a detailed plan and map.”
Prioritize focusing on right here, right now
Like it or not, everyone faces some harsh math at some point in their career, according to career expert Michael Dermer. What does he mean? Well, you’ve been there: you have 100-hours worth of work and only 10 left to complete it. This thought alone is enough to send your heart rate sky-high, but take a breath, and focus on the here-and-the-now of today.
“Instead of focusing on the tasks of the day, they worry about what is not getting done. This is counterproductive. Focusing on the ninety-nine things that you can’t do that day or mentally jumping ahead to tasks that require multiple days is wasted time and effort,” he continues.
To solve this, decide what you need to complete in this work day. And then? Let the worry of the other things fall to the side.
“Focus on the items you have determined require your attention that day. The path to success is rarely built with “giant leaps for mankind” but steadily won with, determined, daily progress. When we chip away at today’s “to-do” list, we build powerful momentum for our business,” he adds.
Reset your thinking
While some years are full of exciting adventures, career-changing feats, and six-figure milestone … others are lackluster, complicated and frustrating. If the start of 2019 has been paved with angst, Weiner says it’s time to reset your thinking and attitude. This doesn’t mean playing the blame game either, but being frank about areas of improvement and gaps for growth.
“Ask yourself what has happened and how would you like to change it. Think about how your own personal behaviors can be adjusted to help you reset or revamp your way of doing things,” she continues. “Perhaps that means focusing on more positive thoughts and affirmations on a daily basis.
“If you have been filled with a lot of negative in your life, perhaps it is negative energy that is festering up and you need to take charge of that for stronger professional growth and better professional outlook.”
Do the hardest thing first thing in the morning
You’ve heard this advice before — but for good reason. We have the most mental agility, energy and flow first-thing in the morning, so it’s best to use it to your advantage. Many people are tempted to delay the most stressful item of their day, but that’s a mistake, according to Dermer.
“Unfortunately, ninety percent of people check their email as soon as they get to work. That turns their agenda over to someone else. They do it because it’s easy and you feel more effective in a shorter time by answering emails,” he explains. “Focus first on the hardest task of the day. This will allow you to apply your best to the most important jobs. Resist the temptation to do mindless or easy things to gain a brief sense of accomplishment.”
Prioritize your self-care
So, you finally made the leap and went freelance full-time. Or — congrats! — you became a parent. Maybe you took on extra duties at work thanks to a promotion … and you’re overwhelmed, to say the least. All of these exciting ventures are just that — but also stressful and time-consuming. When you aren’t giving yourself enough TLC, getting enough sleep or maintaining a work/life balance, your productivity will plummet.
Even though you can’t always control how much “you” time you receive, making an effort to carve out a bit of space for recovery and zen each week will improve your overall happiness — and creativity — on and off the job.
Silence your technology
Sure you paid $1,000 — or more — for that fancy iPhone but how much of your hard-earned hours has it sucked away from you? Most folks are tempted by text messages, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and so on, but don’t realize how much cradling this daily sidekick is stealing your attention.
“Shifting your attention from one task to another, as we do when we’re monitoring email while also reading a report and answering text messages, disrupts our concentration and saps our focus. Each time we return to our initial task, we use up valuable cognitive resources reorienting ourselves,” Dermer explains. “Research shows when we are deeply engrossed in an activity, even minor distractions can have a profound effect. It’s up to you to protect your cognitive resources.
“The more you do to minimize task-switching over the day, the more mental bandwidth you’ll have for activities that matter.”
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